Heart-shaped rose-scented Valentine Biscuits with pink icing and sprinkles. How romantic is that?
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I don’t always bother to make something special for Valentine’s day. I think I got out of the habit when work was very demanding and didn’t ever get back into it.
We often have a Meal for Two from M&S for dinner anyway as I’m not overly keen on eating out when everyone else is. (What a blissful day it was when my children started to cook lunch on Mothering Sunday!) So I sometimes just get a small box of chocolate hearts with my shopping and that’s our treat.
This year though, I’ve decided to go the whole hog and make some Valentine biscuits. Not only make the biscuits, but ice them as well AND decorate with sprinkles. This seems a bit elaborate for me as I’m quite happy with icing small cakes, but biscuits seems a bit of a faff. But I’ve challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone a bit this year, especially in culinary matters, so here we are making Valentine biscuits.
I only had small cutters so this was an excellent excuse to add to my collection of Tala cutters. I like them because they have a coloured plastic top so you don’t hurt your hand – and they’re very pretty. They come in a pack of three different sizes and I had great fun with them at Christmas, so I thought the heart cutters would be a good addition. I used the smallest size for my biscuits, and I’m thinking of uses for the others.
As I try to use what I already have, I thought I’d make rose flavoured biscuits and maybe colour the icing pink to match. As you will know if you’ve tried my Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble, I’m rather partial to using rosewater, so here’s another recipe with it in.
I have to say that I might not have used sprinkles if they weren’t already lurking in my baking cupboard. They’ve been annoying me for some time as I don’t often use them, well, ever really. They’re pink, silver and gold all mixed up. I may have bought them for the Darling Daughter’s wedding, or possibly even engagement? Anyway, I didn’t use them. As I looked at the wretched things they looked more like pink, grey and yellow, so I thought I would separate them out. All I can say is that I will never get back the 30 minutes I spent getting enough for about 3 biscuits. After that, I gave up and figured I would just colour the icing.
One of the reasons I don’t often ice biscuits (well, not since I was about 12) is that glace icing (icing sugar and water) can be a bit runny and get unstable in warm weather. (I know, fat chance this month.) Anyway, I have in my mind that you have to pipe an outline on biscuits and then fill it in with icing. In fact, I know this is the best way to do it, but I really can’t be bothered to go to all that effort. Similarly, the option of making Royal Icing, which gives a better consistency, puts me off the whole idea. So when I read about adding dried egg white to the icing to make a kind of faux Royal Icing, I thought I would give it a go and see how it worked out. Okay, my first thought was, Who in their right mind would use dried egg whites????? But I’m working on that.
I’d had an idea that I would make white icing and use pink sprinkles. Clearly, that was going nowhere, so I used the assorted colours – which actually looked quite good. Then I decided to be daring and colour half of the icing. I don’t know when I got so conservative and preachy about things like food colouring – especially as mine are ‘natural’, so not full of E-numbers that we aren’t sensitive to anyway. (They did have a BB date of 2014, but what can go off? Only the colour.)
And guess what? I prefer the pink biscuits. They look more Valentine-y. The sprinkles are splendid. I love them. And the taste test? Oh yes. They may not last until the day, so I’ll have to make some more – and use up those sprinkles.
What I learned
- Sprinkles are very useful in disguising less-than-perfect icing-in-a-hurry
- Dried egg white is not a dodgy, alien substance that only inferior cooks use. It’s actually ideal for adding to glace icing to stop it spreading everywhere (because I really cannot bring myself to make Royal Icing for biscuits)
- Food colouring – especially two drops of a natural one – is not going to kill me or my loved ones, and looks rather pretty.
For the Valentine Biscuits:
- 175 g plain flour
- 100 g rice flour
- 100 g icing sugar
- 175 g butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon rosewater (5ml)
For the icing:
- 300 g icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons powdered egg white (30ml or 2 sachets)
- 40 ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon rosewater (5ml)
- Red food colouring (optional)
- Line the baking sheet with a non-stick liner or baking parchment
For the biscuits:
- Put the flour, rice flour and icing sugar into the processor and blitz. Add the butter in pieces and process until you have a crumbly mixture. Add the egg and rosewater and process until the dough begins to form a clumpThe dough will be very soft at this stage
- Tear off a piece of clingfilm large enough to wrap around half the dough. Remove half the dough and wrap in the clingfilm, pulling it together into a flattened ball. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes and
- Set the oven to 180°C fan, gas mark 6
- When the dough has chilled, take one piece out of the fridge
- Cut another piece of clingfilm and lay it on your work surface. You are going to roll out the dough between the 2 pieces of clingfilm to avoid mess and using extra flour
- Unwrap the dough and tip it onto the clingfilm. Spread the wrapping over the dough. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/2cm
- Cut out heart shapes with the cutterI make about 15 biscuits, but it will depend on the cutter size
- The dough can be re-formed into a ball and rolled out again as needed but as it warms up the dough gets soft, so it may need another 5 minutes in the fridge if you handle it a lot
- Move each biscuit to the baking sheet. The mixture doesn't spread much so leave a small space between each
- Bake for 10-12 minutesThe biscuits will still be pale on top, but light golden underneath. They will firm up as they cool
- Leave on the baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool
- Repeat with the rest of the dough unless you are leaving it for later (see Note)
For the icing:
- Sift the icing sugar and dried egg white into a bowl. Mix the powders carefully with a spoon, to avoid sugar everywhereIf your icing sugar is new and looks okay, you may not need to bother to sieve it (I didn't, but I would for non-family guests)
- Mix the water and rosewater. Add the liquid to the sugar a little at a time and mix until it is spreadable, but not too runny. You may not need all the water
- Try icing one biscuit to see if the icing spreads well. Adjust the consistency if necessary and ice all the biscuitsAdd colouring at any point, a drop at a time. I coloured half my biscuits with 2 drops of red colour
- Add sprinkles while the icing is still wet
- Un-iced biscuits keep for a week in an airtight container
- Iced biscuits keep for a few days in an airtight container
- The uncooked dough will freeze for up to 3 months, wrapped in clingfilm and then sealed in a bag